By Karima Williams
SC Staff Writer
Although she may carry many titles on campus, such as Chair of the Intercultural and Interdisciplinary studies Department or Advisor to the Prince Hall Program, to Dr. Patricia Graham’s students, she is a loving teacher who makes you want to attend her class. “Welcoming” she says is the term she believes her students depicts of her.
She tries to make students feel comfortable in the classroom while discussing difficult dialogues about race relation issues.
At this year’s first annual Patricia Graham Step Show, Prince Hall Scholar, Phillip Anthony took the stage to give honor and acknowledgement to Dr. Patricia Graham for her years of hard work here at ESU.
“Doesn’t Dr. Graham look fly y’all?” in reference to her noted foxy yet classy style. Phillip recollected, “I remember one time a girl saw Dr. Graham and asked, “Hey Dr. Graham, where did you get your shoes from?” and Dr. Graham says bashfully as she chuckles, “I’m not telling.”” The entire audience bursts into laughter as the 5 ft. 2 late 60’s woman struts across the stage to receive her award.
Phillip like many other students who know Dr. Graham and have taken her classes can do a great rendition of Graham’s distinct southern accent.
Graham, who enjoys receiving correspondents from students after they graduate, stated that she has maintained a good relationship with alumni. Actually, alumni from the 1980’s class are planning to give her a retirement party in Philadelphia this summer.
One of ESU’s most recent high achieving students, Brittany Anthony at 2012 Graduate School Graduate notes that throughout her time at ESU she was able to count on guidance from her mentor Dr. Patricia Graham. It was until 1972, when Dr. Graham received her first job as a counselor for a catholic school for girls and two years later received her first job as a professor at Widener University.
However it was not until 1977, when she started teaching at ESU alongside her husband at the time. She recalls her first time at ESU noticing that there were a small number of diverse students, and majority white faculty and staff. However, today she is pleased to see more diverse students in all areas of the campus.
Graham who was also recently honored this past February at the African American festival has just now been appointed Grand Marshall of President Marcia Welsh’s inauguration, in which she considers this opportunity “thrilling.”
Even though she does not fully know what this opportunity includes she knows that she is excited to lead the faculty into the inauguration.
During her 36 years of service to the college, she recalls several memorable moments such as when she received the Martin Luther King Award in 2009.
Also in 2010, she received the APSCUF leadership award and her most recent memorable moment is having the 1st Annual Patricia Graham Step Show in her name.
As an advocate for diversity she would like to see more multicultural faculty on campus.
As Advisor of the Prince Hall program which has had 10 students in the last 5 years received full scholarships to ESU, she hopes to see the program continue despite the recent cuts it has received. She would like to further see the program continue to offer even more scholarships to students who are participating.
As Chair of the Intercultural and Interdisciplinary studies, her department is often considered to hold majors where students do not declare initially when they first come to ESU, but it’s normally a major that students transfer into.
The interdisciplinary major allows students to have 2-3 more disciplines/concentrations in which they can create or shape their own major. For instance students can major in Communications, theater and sports management if they choose to.
She encourages the next Chairperson to continue to strengthen the curriculum in the department, develop minors that will attract more diverse students such as a minor in Africana studies and Latino/Latina studies, and develop courses that will attract diverse students to the university at large.
“It should be doubled, we should have a more widespread effort to recruit diverse graduate students and offer more than 5 graduate assistant-ships,” she proclaims when asked what she anticipates for the future of the Frederick Douglass Institute.
Although she will miss the camaraderie with her colleagues, the classroom interaction with students, being the Advisor of the Voices of Triumph Gospel choir including attending their concerts, Dr. Graham has higher expectations and hope for ESU’s future. She also enjoyed and the exciting warriors’ men basketball games. ‘Homecoming is my favorite event though” she squeals as she looks forward to coming back in the fall to reunite with alumni.
She remembers spending the entire homecoming day when her former graduate assistant David Howze and former student Tyler Dubbs. On that day they went out to dinner and hung out with each other the entire day.
“It’s an achievement to see them grown up with careers” she adds. As her work-study student, I believe what many others as myself will miss the most of Dr. Graham is her presence.
Any concerns you have as a student with classes, financial aid or other professors, she is always willing to listen and give you advice. Although you might want to have clear your schedule when meeting with her because the meetings are about an hour long. She takes the time out to make sure her students get a good understanding.
I believe it’s considered a loss for future students who won’t get the chance to attend Intercultural Perspectives or Women of the African diaspora class.
Also, Dr. Graham’s passion, service, and overall work ethic will be deeply missed here at ESU.
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